After a time capsule found last week proved to be a letdown, another one has been found in the pedestal of a now-removed Robert E. Lee state in Richmond, Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced in a tweet Monday.
@GovernorVA/TwitterGovernor Ralph Northam announced the discovery of what is believed to be the authentic time capsule from the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, Va., via Twitter on Dec. 27, 2021.
“They found it!,” Northam said in the tweet. “This is likely the time capsule everyone was looking for.”
The contents of the time capsule, believed to date back to 1887, could be valuable. Historical records show that “37 Richmond residents, organizations, and businesses contributed about 60 objects to the capsule, many of which are believed to be related to the Confederacy,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
There are even rumors that it contains a prized photograph of former President Abraham Lincoln’s casket. The possibilities excite people like local historian and author Dale Brumfield, who held out hope after a capsule discovered last week didn’t live up to expectations.
“I think it will be recovered as they remove the foundation,” Brumfield said. “And then we’ll finally get a chance to see what in the devil that picture of Abraham Lincoln really is.”
Northam watched last week as another capsule was opened by historians at the state’s Department of Historic Resources. After hours of working to unseal the small, corroded box, the contents confused and disappointed some local historians who were eager to see the contents of the box.
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It contained what appeared to be a coin, a few books of varying size and color, what appeared to be an envelope with a photo inside and other items, some of which were difficult to identify given their condition.
The authenticity of the relic was called into question in large part because it did not match the size and material descriptions from historical records. Brumfield suspected it wasn’t the correct time capsule when he came to understand it was made of lead, the dimensions didn’t match historical accounts and the box was discovered high up in the pedestal.
Steve Helber/APGov. Ralph Northam and lead conservator for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Kate Ridgway inspect a book the was removed from the initial box removed from the pedestal that once held the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., Dec. 22, 2021.
“I knew right from the beginning that something was amiss,” Brumfield told ABC News after the other time capsule was opened. “And the more I thought about it, the more I studied my notes, and some of the historical records. I said this is a different time capsule.”
MORE: Robert E. Lee removed from Virginia state house and a school name as courts weigh future of Richmond statue
Brumfield theorized that the first box found was hidden by people involved in the construction of the monument.
“I believe that those guys were left out of the original time capsule, and they decided that they wanted to commemorate themselves by putting this small lead box up 20 feet up, which is the halfway point in the construction.”
Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILEThe statue of Robert E. Lee stands at Robert E. Lee Memorial on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., Sept. 7, 2021.
Although the time capsule won’t be opened Monday, the governor said, he specified that conservators are “studying it.”
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